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The History of Playstation

PS1 in Lilac Glow

Gaming in the old days was different. The market was awash with competitors, each vying for attention. PC and console gaming often mixed together. Yes, we had the big efforts from Nintendo and Sega but even they would create flash in the pan consoles that would cease production as quick as they were released. Then one system came along that changed everything. It streamlined gaming and gave us the two party system we know today. This is the History of the Playstation.

We are now on the fourth version of this console with a fifth in the works. But this was not just a story of Sony deciding they wanted to create a console and it being a runaway success. First, they had been rebuked by both Nintendo and Sega before deciding to go it alone.

Entering the Market

It is the late eighties Japanese Electronics giant Sony had decided that they wanted to get involved in the lucrative video games market, working on consoles with CD technology.

Nintendo Play Station Prototype

They started by approaching Nintendo, asking to start a joint venture into a compact disc add on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This SNES CD was to be similar to the Mega CD that Sega had created for the Mega Drive/Genesis.

Nintendo Playstation

After signing the contract, Sony began work on a hybrid system that would come to be known as the Super Disc. This would allow you to play Super Nintendo cartridges via the top slot and CD games in a lower disc drive.

However, Nintendo decided they were not happy handing over control of their CD titles to Sony. The Sony console would have access to play Nintendo cartridges as well as CD tech, making it a far superior system. Contractually, most of their software licensing would also now be ran by Sony.

Very odd Playstation ad from 1999

It is also rumoured that Nintendo’s trepidation was also due to their lack of CD creation facilities, yet an abundance of chip making facilities. This was consolidated by that fact that Nintendo would stick with cartridges on their upcoming N64, while those around them would move to CD. It would cost them dearly.

Play Station

While the two giants battled it out, Nintendo sent off a delegation to Sony’s rival Phillips to negotiate better terms. Production of the prototype consoles began. Software started to get developed, but the water was about to be truly soured.

Classic PS Console

At the 1991 Chicago Consumer Electronics Show, Sony unveiled its new Super Nintendo CD hybrid, the ‘Play Station’. However, in a back stabbing move, instead of confirming the partnership, Nintendo would announce their deal with Phillips just the next day.

Rebuked by Sega

Despite the legal backlash between the two, Sony set off to Sega who were also less than interested. They were busy developing their own machine, the Sega Saturn.

So Sony did what any innovative electronics manufacturer would do. They took the part finished Super Disc console and reworked it into what would become the Playstation.

The US unveiling

The Playstation was unveiled to the US proper at the 1995 LA Electronics expo. It would go head to head with the Sega Saturn. The two had already been competing in Japan, where the Saturn had launched early to beat its rival to the punch. In a bid to replicate this, Sega made the decision to announce the console early despite a lack of games.

As the Saturn limped in with six lacklustre launch titles, Playstation turned up with a plethora. And not just any old titles. Breathtaking games including Wipeout, Ridge Racer and Tekken were on show.

And the rest is history. By Christmas 1996 over 200 titles were available for the Playstation. It’s controller could have an article on of its own and remains pretty much identical to this day. Everything about this console was revolutionary. Now entering its fifth iteration, the Playstation remains at the top of the pack today.


The Nostalgia Nerds Retro Tech. Peter Leigh. Ilex press.


Photos courtesy of….


Heritage Auctions – www.ha.com


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